My daughter sent me a text they were slaughtering the turkeys. It’s that time of year, when after a year of fun and fellowship, they are now going to roast and eat their companions. And they feel pretty good about it. It’s important for them to like the things they eat.
When I was visiting this past summer, they slaughtered a flock of “meat birds.” I thought it telling that they never named these small chickens bought in lots, housed in a small enclosure and never able to roam the farm the way the other chickens, turkeys and goats did. They did not like, much less love these meat birds and at the ethics discussion while we ate the first dinner, they decided to not buy anymore. The cost was comparable to that which was available at the grocery store, the taste the same, and they didn’t enjoy raising them.
Not so with the turkeys. These are part of the family, they visit during cocktail hour, serve as art critics and run to greet them when the cars pull into the driveway. Now it is time for them to serve their final purpose which is to be served at the dinner table this week.
Years ago, we had cows on our small farm in Mebane. We were told not to name them because then we wouldn’t be able to eat them. Of course, we didn’t listen, and when the time came to eat Sally Jr. and T-bone, we relished them because we also had memories of them on the farm. They added to our lives, not just our bellies.
It is a right relationship to food that is important, whether we care for, kill and cook the food or if we just go to Harris Teeter and pick up a Butterball with whom we’ve not shared a martini olive.